A Matter of Courage

by J.C. Long

$6.49

Rated 4.25 out of 5 based on 4 customer ratings
(4 customer reviews)

Winston Chang has spent much of his young life admiring the Dragons who have kept his area safe and fought off the gangs that would bring violence to their area. Now that he’s an adult, he wants nothing more than to join the Dragons and live up to those standards.

The opportunity presents itself when his passion and knowledge of cars is just what the Dragons need. One of their own has been killed and his death seems linked to his involvement with the illegal racing scene known as the Dark Streets. Winston is needed to infiltrate the scene and find out who is responsible and why.

Steel has always been Winston’s best friend, and Winston has always been there to get him out of trouble. Just as the stress in Winston’s life reaches its peak, the relationship between Winston and Steel begins to change in ways neither of them expected.

Will Winston and Steel be able to find the courage to face not only the unknown killer stalking the Dark Streets racers but also their growing feelings?

Available in Print from most major retailers.

Book Info

Author: J.C. Long

Series: Hong Kong Nights

Release Date: September 4, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-947139-76-3

Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Category: Romance

Genre: Contemporary

Theme: Crime

Word Count: 81400

Pages: 247

Sex Content: Explicit

Pairing: MM

Orientation: Bisexual, Gay

Identity: Cisgender

Excerpt

A Matter of Courage
J.C. Long © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Winston Chang awoke with a splitting headache, a mouth that tasted like rubbing alcohol, and the feeling that he was on a boat out at sea during a storm. His stomach flip-flopped just from opening his eyes, and he let out a pitiful groan. He closed his eyes again and gritted his teeth to fight back the nausea that washed over him at the smell of his own breath.

What the fuck did I do last night?

He waited until the bout of nausea passed and slowly opened his eyes once more. He was happy to find he could open them without making himself puke; it was progress. He stared up at the ceiling, confused. It wasn’t the ceiling of his room. His ceiling didn’t have those weird little texture-bumps all over it.

The next thing Winston noticed was the sound of someone else snoring. He turned his head to the side, wincing at the stab of pain the movement caused. His best friend, who liked to be called Steel, was lying facedown on the bed next to him, head turned facing his direction. Steel was still lost in sleep, snoring every so often.

Winston couldn’t face him long; Steel’s breath also reeked of cheap booze and poor decisions.

Staring back up at the ceiling, he tried to remember something, anything, from the night before. He and Steel had gone to a bar, that much he remembered—like he remembered it being Steel’s idea, because it was always Steel’s idea. The place was a dive, dimly lit, stinking of smoke and booze and sweat. At some point in the night, they’d been approached by a group of people who asked them to join their group. Winston had been hesitant, wanting to get in early, though he couldn’t recall why he’d kept insisting they leave. Steel had convinced him to stay, as always. Winston never could tell Steel no.

He vaguely recalled stumbling back to Steel’s apartment, which was near the club, unable to drive home, barely able to walk up the single flight of stairs to Steel’s apartment. At one point, he had thrown up, though he couldn’t remember when, and everything after that was a complete blur.

Grunting, he sat up, and immediately buried his head in his hands to fight the swelling nausea that threatened to empty the contents of his stomach. Once he had it under control, he turned toward Steel. The way the sheet fell, Winston couldn’t tell if Steel was dressed.

He looked down quickly, lifting the sheet off his own form. He was naked and sporting quite the morning wood despite his hangover. It was funny the things the body did.

Why the fuck am I naked?

He glanced at the clock. It was nearly nine in the morning. He searched around him, finding no sign of his cell phone or clothes. He turned, shaking Steel’s shoulder roughly. “Dude, where’re my clothes? Dude!” He shook harder, and Steel finally stirred long enough to roll onto his back, muttering something unintelligible.

Seeing Steel lying like that made Winston’s pulse quicken. He raked his eyes over his friend’s sleeping body, admiring the musculature. Steel wasn’t a gym bunny, but his body was lean from a rougher-than-average childhood, whipcord muscles standing out with his arms stretched over his head. The room was chilly—Steel always slept with his air conditioner on—and his nipples were stiff buds. The sheet pulled down just enough for Winston to see that he was wearing his typical boxers.

Everything about Steel drew him in. He’d known Steel since he was ten years old—almost eleven years, now. For pretty much the entirety of that friendship, Winston had been in love with him. Something he’d been unable to shake. Most of the time, he didn’t think he wanted to—and then other times, Steel drove him crazy, and not just in a sexual way.

Winston couldn’t help his eyes traveling down to the dragon tattoo on Steel’s calf—his leg was sticking out of the sheet—and his admiration was interrupted by a jolt of envy. Winston longed to have one of those tattoos himself, the mark of the Dragons, the gang—for lack of a better word—that ran the Eastern District. The underworld of Hong Kong, both the island city itself and the New Territories on the Mainland, was run by gangs, competing against one another and struggling to gain power.

The Dragons, though, they were different. They didn’t rule through fear, drugs, or terror, but by protecting and serving the community. Wei, the leader of the Dragons, didn’t allow drugs to be sold in the Eastern District, and he didn’t demand protection money from the people; he protected them because it was a duty he’d taken upon himself.

It was a duty Winston wanted to take up, too.

He reached out to touch Steel’s chest and stopped himself, instead slapping Steel’s stomach—though it might not have been safer to go near his friend’s lower body.

Steel jerked awake, swatting at Winston, who knew his friend well enough to move quickly out of reach. “What the hell, man?”

“Where are my clothes?”

Steel flopped back on the bed, closing his eyes tightly. Winston sympathized with what he must have been feeling at that moment, and he was thankful his nausea was mostly gone, leaving him with just the headache.

“Dude, my clothes?”

Steel inhaled and exhaled slowly several times before answering. “You don’t remember? You puked all over them last night, so they’re in the wash.”

So that was when he threw up. That question was answered. “Okay, so how did I manage to get them off?”

Steel chuckled despite how much pain his head must be in. “You didn’t. You just tugged at the shirt like a baby, and I finally got you undressed. Dick stiffed right up when I took off those little boy briefs, too. How long has it been since you got some action, Winston?”

The sound of his phone ringing jarred Winston, and he peered around for it, finding it on the bedside table next to him. He grabbed it and saw that it was Conroy Wong, Wei’s right-hand man in the Dragons.

“Hey, Conroy.” He hoped he didn’t sound too hungover. Conroy didn’t disapprove of drinking—the opposite, actually; he drank like a tank and never in his life seemed to have a hangover—but if he knew Winston had one, he would take great pleasure in torturing him in as many ways as he possibly could. “What’s up?”

“Yo, where the fuck are you, man?”

Dread coiled in Winston’s stomach; he didn’t like it when Conroy sounded angry at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Just wanted to make sure your punk ass was up. A few of my boys told me you and Steel were out drinking ’til dawn. How ya feelin’?”

“I’m fine,” Winston lied. “Absolutely no problem.”

“Good, then you won’t mind hoppin’ in your car and driving to the airport,” said Conroy cheerfully. Winston guessed if he could see him at that moment, he’d have that smug little smile on his face that drove Winston crazy. “The boss is busy right now, and Noah will be arriving this afternoon. Wei refuses to let him just ride public transportation like a normal person, especially since—”

“Since the subway will take him through Twisted Viper territory,” Winston finished. He understood Wei’s concern; their recent run-ins with the Twisted Vipers had been far less than friendly, and temperatures were getting even colder, fast. Considering Noah was at the heart of that unfriendly encounter, Wei’s concern was completely justified.

“What time is he getting in?”

“Just after noon.”

“Damn it. That means I need to get going now.”

“Get on it.” Conroy hung up with that.

“What did Conroy want?” Steel asked. He was now sitting up in bed, looking relatively healthier. Winston felt a bit of resentment at his quick recovery.

“Asked me to ride out to the airport to get Noah. Wei’s busy.”

“Oh, is Noah coming back from America today?”

“I guess so.” Winston started out of the bed but stopped. “What the fuck am I going to wear?”

4 reviews for A Matter of Courage

  1. Rated 4 out of 5

    MillyMollyMandi

    This book is the second in the Hong Kong Knights series, the underlying theme in the series is the Dragons rather than the main characters as the MC’s in this book are Winston and Steel instead of Noah and Wei who featured in the first book. This book is set a few months after the first one and centres on Winston, his determination to prove himself so he can become a Dragon and Steel who has his troubled childhood brought back to him by events that happen to Yao an adorable kid.

    This is a friends to lovers story between the impetuous, hot headed Winston and the cautious, protective Steel. They come from very different backgrounds so they see the world from very different perspectives.
    We watch as Winston and Steel grow and change through the book, both through their interactions with each other but also due to other events in the book. As the story is told from both Winston and Steel’s POV we can see them struggling with their relationship as it goes into previously uncharted areas.

    The plot is a great one, I really enjoy books that have juicy storyline in addition to the romantic aspect and this one was great at interspersing suspense in between Steel and Winston’s developing relationship. The secondary characters were all well developed and helped drive the storyline as well as hint towards possible events in future books.

    Although it is the second book in a series it can definitely be read as a standalone but I’d recommend reading the first book to gain maximum enjoyment. I’m looking forward to reading the next book in the series.

  2. Rated 5 out of 5

    Bretton

    This sequel gives you the story you’ll be begging for if you’ve read the first one. I think everyone loves a good friends to lovers story and this is one of the most unique I’ve read because it’s in the context of the larger conflict between the warring gangs. The greater conflict and the romantic conflict get equal screen time and I like that. In the first book you get the impression that the unresolved sexual tension between Winston and Steel has been going on for a while, but in this book you learn that they’ve both been in love with each other for the past decade. They’ve been best friends ever since they met and hearing about that meeting and how influential it was in Steel’s life was really heart breaking.

    Steel and Winston are definitely meant for each other and like everyone else in the story, you’ll be asking why they haven’t gotten together before but I think it makes sense because their friendship is so important to them. The Dragons are important to them both as well and this story continues the Dragon’s conflict with the Twisted Vipers but this time they have the help of at least some of the police which I think bodes well for the Eastern District. I really liked the reconciliation between Winston and Hong, his cop uncle, I think it was a long time coming and I hope that Hong reconciles with the rest of the Dragons.

    If you like gritty sexy romantic thrillers, or exotic romances then I think you’ll love this series. The first is good and I recommend reading it first but this is capable of standing alone. I can’t wait for the next sequel to see the continuation of the Dragon’s story.

  3. Rated 5 out of 5

    Isabelle Adler

    As with all J.C. Long’s books, this was a very enjoyable blend of romance and action. If you’re a fan of the ‘friends to lovers’ premise, you’re going to love this book. Winston’s and Steel’s rocky journey to find love and overcome their troubles and insecurities is an emotional ride that is integrated seamlessly into the story of the Dragons’ struggle to keep the peace. The last pages kept me on the edge of my seat with tension.
    The sights, sounds, and flavors of Hong Kong create a vivid backdrop to the story. It was as if the city was a character in itself, one that was both pretenseless and mysterious.
    I am looking forward to the next book in the series!

  4. Rated 3 out of 5

    Cat – Divine Magazine

    A Different View of Life

    A Matter of Courage is the second in the Hong Kong Nights series, and while it is technically standalone-worthy, I don’t recommend reading it until you’ve read the first book, A Matter of Duty. This book picks up shortly after the end of the first, and though I’ve not read that one, it became readily apparent quite quickly that this is a story arc where characters and storylines are going to build through the whole of the series.

    This installment focuses on Winston and Steel, best friends since they were ten years old who are now dancing around the attraction they feel for each other. Things are complicated, though, by Steel belonging to the Dragons and Winston not – yet. Duties for the Dragons keep both men occupied and force separations that become emotionally wider with each task.

    I enjoyed the premise of this story in that the Dragons gang, while definitely a gang, focuses on protection of their area rather than running drugs and/or guns. It’s a white hat gang, peculiar and unique, and I became quite the fan of the group. This story assumes that you have read A Matter of Duty, because there is clearly backstory that isn’t explained. That threw me, but as I went along, I found myself curious about going back and reading the first simply because the second was so interesting and intriguing.

    Winston and Steel share a very close bond already, and watching their character growth as they ford the path from friends to lovers touched my heart. Very realistic stumbling blocks that I could absolutely see happening in regular life, and while there is a little angst, it isn’t overpowering, just frustrating in the best possible way.

    There is a wide cast of characters, and you are expected to know who they are. There isn’t much in the way of explanation, so I found myself with what could easily be inaccurate views of some of the Dragons’ members. However, each character, Dragon or not, contributed in a way that fit the story without taking the focus from Winston and Steel. Wit and charm abound in these character interactions, and they provided much-needed insight and camaraderie to both men.

    My one and only issue was the wrap-up. It was very abrupt, and there was no effort made to see Winston and Steel as a functioning couple. The pinnacle of the story hits and then immediately we are into the epilogue, with no resolution to the MC relationship, not even an HFN. It clearly marks that there is another book coming, because there has to be with the ongoing storyline, but I felt that more effort could have been given to wrap up the ending for these two characters better.

    I’m rating this at three stars because of the ending, but I do still recommend reading both existing books in this series. This is a new author to me, he has great talent, and I look forward to seeing what he delivers next.

    I voluntarily read an ARC copy of this book for Divine Magazine from NineStar Press with hopes for but no obligation to provide a review.

    **Same worded review will appear on Goodreads, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.**

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *